Blackpool were left wondering what might have been after a frustrating 1-1 draw against second-placed Hull City. The Tigers took the lead early in the second half but, after Hull went down to 10 men when Reece Burke brought down Ben Woodburn on the edge of the box, the Seasiders equalised through Jerry Yates and had chances to come away with all three points.
In isolation, a point away from home against second in the division, following a 3-2 home win against that same side a few weeks earlier would be well celebrated. So for me it is a good pointer as to how our expectations of what this side are capable of have increased significantly since the start of the season. Having said that, with that added bit of quality on the creative front we could, and should have won a game like that.
Full backs were quiet
Within our system, Neil Critchley likes to have the freedom for our full backs to add to our creative play. In our victories against those at the top of the table, James Husband in particular has played a higher game, at times becoming more of a left midfielder. At the KCOM Stadium we hardly heard a peep out of both Husband and Turton in our forward play.
It was clear early on that Hull had made a concerted effort to pin our wide defenders back in their own half in order to further isolate the likes of Madine. This left Madine and Yates feeding off scraps for most of the game before the red card and relying on hope of a good set piece delivery to provide an opening. As you can see above, Turton and Husband both had passing accuracy rates of 63 and 64%. That indicates that they were under pressure when in possession but also points towards generally sloppy play that was apparent in their defensive work with Turton subpar for the Hull opener.
Madine worked wonders
This was one of Gary Madine’s best games in a Blackpool shirt for me. His hold up play when he was significantly isolated for large spells of the game was very impressive. If it wasn’t for Madine we would have been under wave after wave of Hull pressure, he added that calmness and composure that is required of any target man. It breeds confidence through the side when they know a direct ball forward is not just a waste of possession and that we can create chances off the back of it.
Two efforts in the first half came close and they both came purely from Madine’s ability to hold up the ball and yet again his underrated technical attributes shone through when it came to his playmaking.
Jerry Yates was quite frustrated for spells of the game but as ever his work rate enabled us to create chances out of nothing. As you can see below both he and Bez Lubala, who also had a frustrating afternoon, were dispossessed the most on the field, but that is part and parcel of a game plan that leaves our attacking outlets isolated. It was hard to find an out ball when driving forward and that shows in these stats.
The wide areas are key for our success
Without a doubt these are the most important elements of the system we play, and I would argue they are also the weakest part of our team. So the two don’t go together and that is why we haven’t yet made a real run for the upper echelons of the league table.
Our delivery from wide areas is generally poor and that means we can’t take advantage of the top striking options that we have when the supply of the ball is so low in quality. Sullay Kaikai was generally anonymous again and Bez Lubala also had a quiet and frustrating afternoon.
Neil Critchley knows where our problem areas are and he knows what is needed to improve them. We need a left winger, a right winger, a backup striker and, with news of Keshi Anderson’s season long injury, we need a number 10. Ben Woodburn looked quite lively when he came on but he does not provide the quality in delivery that is expected of a Premier League loanee. It simply hasn’t worked out for him.
You could see the issue come to a head after the red card. Critchley didn’t have any faith in his wide options on the park to provide the delivery that would be the catalyst to a goal, instead turning to Jordan Gabriel and Luke Garbutt to provide the width. It is an issue that has frustrated us all season but it is fairly simple to fix, but it takes another push in the transfer market to get it.
General creative numbers
After all the bemoaning of our lack of quality in the final third, our creative numbers have been on the up again. That bizarre trend of the season has continued where our creative numbers have improved when results have dropped and vice versa. As you can see above, we should have won the game in terms of our created chances. With that being said, a large portion of that stems from Yates’ goal being a tap in from a yard out, but it is positive that we are getting in the right areas, we are simply missing the quality when it is most needed.
We now sit 8th in the expected goals table for the season so far which has us matching our season high. I am glad to see this because we all know we have more to give and the ability to strengthen in January. When you look at the creative quality of those around us, you would expect most of those sides to stick with what they have and, more importantly, lose a key player or two to the Championship.
There is no reason why, with the additions I outlined, we can’t make a playoff push and it shows in how disappointed many were with the point at Hull, that we see ourselves right up there. Making better use of the Premier League loan market is key to our success, a similar use of it to what Simon Grayson made of it in his final window and we could well be off to Wembley in May (or more likely watching on a stream).
Image: Hull Daily Mail
Enjoying our content? Make sure you check out our latest podcasts too!
Don’t forget to turn on notifications on Twitter and Instagram to see our latest content first. Please help us out by commenting, liking and retweeting our posts to spread the word across the Blackpool fans. Up the mighty Pool.